You’ve probably heard the saying that UChicago is the most caffeinated campus in the United States, but it’s not because we’re always doing so much that we literally need caffeine to keep going, like you may think. With all the great places on and around campus to grab a cup of coffee, it would be nearly impossible for us not to be the most caffeinated campus! Plus, each café has their own list of signature beverages, so there’s always something new to try. Here’s a list of my favorite coffee spots on and near campus!
Harper Café is conveniently located on the third floor of the Harper Memorial Library, so it’s a great spot to pick up a latte before a big study session, and then to get more halfway through. It’s right next to the Hogwarts-esque Arley D. Cathey Learning Center and Stuart Hall (which has tons of really nice study cubicles), so it’s a nice study break to pop over to the café and get a drink before returning to your studies. The location is so convenient that it’s kind of like walking to your fridge while you’re studying at home, just a nice reset to help you refresh. Plus, it has a really welcoming atmosphere, so it’s a great place to come after class to decompress and relax.
Philz is a San Francisco coffee company that has some of the best coffee in the world. It’s located on 53rd Street, so about a 10-20 minute walk depending on where you leave from on campus. I like to go to Philz early in the morning with my friends, so every so often we’ll wake up real early and walk over there before our classes. It’s a nice way to start the day because it’s a good walk and there’s a nice morning breeze, plus you get really good coffee. I recommend the Philtered Soul, it’s got a nice hazelnut and chocolate flavor, but it’s not too sweet.
Ex Libris Café
Ex Lib is located on the first floor of the Reg, so it’s another great spot to take a nice study break. Ex Lib has a fun vibe and a nice modern design. Each week they have a new specialty drink that is always very unique and created by the student baristas. Ex Lib also hosts some really fun activities throughout the year like, like Ex After Dark,Which is when they re-open at 10 pm and stay open an extra hour with a fun theme. This past May, they served Mario Kart themed pastries and drinks during Ex After Dark and all the staff were dressed as Mario characters.
Plein Air Café
Plein Air is right next to Seminary Co-op Bookstore off Woodlawn Avenue, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee while reading your new book! It’s a French atelier-inspired café that has a really broad coffee menu with lots of unique options. They also have a really good breakfast and lunch menu, as well as fresh croissants and beignets, so it’s a great place to stop by any time of the day. Both their indoor and outdoor seating areas are very nice and a great place to relax during the afternoon or in the morning before classes.
Grounds of Being
Grounds of Being is located in the basement of the Divinity School right on the main quad. It’s cash-only and has a vast coffee menu with all kinds of unique divinity-themed options to try like the Hail Mary or the Irish Catholic. They have a really nice seating area, so it’s a nice place to hang out between classes since it’s so close to all the classrooms. Grounds of Being is also really nice because they make a really concerted effort to ensure that everything they serve is locally and ethically sourced.
Hallowed Grounds is located on the second floor of Reynold’s Club and is one of the coolest spots on campus. They have three pool tables, a full seating area, and a few really comfortable sofas (it’s been described as a campus living room). They also frequently bring in food from restaurants in the area, which is nice because you can try new Hyde Park places without actually having to leave campus. Hallowed Grounds is a great place to hang out on the weekends and play a few games of pool with your friends!
Pret A Manger
Pret A Manger is located on the first floor of Reynold’s Club. It’s a United Kingdom chain with locations all over the globe–there are 324 locations in London alone (there are 184 Starbucks in Chicago for reference). It’s French for “ready to eat,” so naturally they have a wide selection of pre-packaged meals and snacks, my favorite is the tuna and cucumber sandwich. They also have tons of coffee and pastry options and a large seating area and outdoor patio, so it’s a great place to grab lunch with your friends or study between classes.